Have you ever heard of a Fayoumi chicken? I hadn’t until I came across a picture of one while doing research on another breed. It’s not a common bird among today’s poultry keepers, though the Fayoumi has been around for thousands of years. This pretty little bird with the upright tail dates back to the time of pharaohs. Its name refers to a region of Egypt, southwest of Cairo.
The Fayoumi is known in Egypt as the Bigawi. The existence of this breed dates back to 1550 B.C. Due to a long period of isolation, the look of the Fayoumi remained unchanged in appearance for years, until other birds were introduced to the region with the arrival of sea traders and conquerors. It is a breed steeped in ancient history, used in trade between the earliest cultures of our world.
The Fayoumi has an appearance reminiscent of a Campine. The rooster has a silver and white head, neck and saddle with black and white barring covering the rest of its frame. The hen has barred plumage on its body with a silver and white head. Fayoumis have a high carriage and a long neck. Their tails present at such an angle, that their frame appears to tilt, giving them the look of a roadrunner. They mature quickly, laying small, off-white eggs often by 4 months of age. Hens weigh about 3.5 pounds and males on average, a pound heavier. This bird has a single comb and green or slate blue legs.
Because of their sleek size and curious nature, Fayoumis can be flighty; a consideration if you have a backyard flock. They would rather be ranging then kept in confinement. They also tend to be nervous nellies, so not the best lap chicken if you’re looking for a pet. They are very good layers, though not as gifted as larger and more popular breeds, such as the Rhode Island Red or Leghorn. Nonetheless, the quick maturity of the Fayoumi, its ability to forage well, avoid predators and withstand illness and infection, (most notably a natural resistance to Marek’s Disease), makes it an interesting addition to a hobby flock or small farm.
Today, the Fayoumi is not recognized for exhibition by the American poultry associations, though it continues to be studied by Iowa State University because of its resistance to disease. Don’t be surprised if someday this chicken provides the clue in how the world treats such maladies as the Avian Flu.
It may not be the typical barnyard fowl, but if you’re looking for an interesting, heat tolerant bird, whose ancestors ranged along the banks of the Nile, the Fayoumi may just be the perfect chicken for you.
Image source: Featured photo of Fayoumi hen, courtesy of BackYard Chickens; image of Fayoumi cockerel: flickr.com via google images; second photo of hen, My Pet Chicken.